Effective marketing involves a seamless blend of offline and online resources. Ideally, your customers and prospective customers will eventually wind up on your website, where they can see a more complete picture of your business, subscribe to your email newsletter, and buy your products or services.
Fortunately, guiding traffic across the great divide between offline and online isn’t nearly as difficult as you might think.
The process begins with a mindful approach to your offline advertising. Whenever you design a new offline piece—be it window signage, a billboard, radio and/or television advertisements, vehicle wraps, even business cards—keep the online world firmly in mind. You want each and every piece you produce to drive visitors to your website.
Put your URL on everything.
Be creative. Include your website on your door and window signage, shopping bags, shirts worn by your employees, even your sales slips. Mention it at least twice in every radio advertisement, and add it as a caption to every television spot. A print ad is another excellent way to encourage people to visit your site, especially if the ad includes a QR code designed to take them to landing page, and offers a coupon or discount when they get there. You can use this free QR code generator to create yours. It’s the only free one I’ve found that will output an EPS file.
A customer visiting your brick-and-mortar store can be directed to your website, too. Even if a given customer doesn’t buy anything, have your employees thank them for visiting, adding, “Did you know you can get coupons, find out about sales, and sign up for our newsletter on our website.” Or, take it a step further and hand them a card with your URL and/or QR code on it.
Trade shows offer another face-to-face chance to bring offline traffic online. Highlight your URL on all swag and display pieces—pens, magnets, backdrop, tablecloth, signage—and add a QR code to takeaways like brochures, business cards, and note pads. Thank every visitor for stopping by and encourage them to visit your website.
Signage is another effective offline venue you can use to spread the word about your website. Whether you opt for an old-fashioned billboard, a digital billboard, interior bus ads, or ads on benches, bus shelters, or kiosks, make sure each and every one includes your URL. A few things to remember here:
- When advertising on street furniture or structures, be sure to locate your ads in those neighborhoods where people are most likely to be interested in what you have to offer.
- Billboards get plenty of exposure and can be very effective, but they tend to cost a lot more than other outdoor media and aren’t a good fit for every business.
- Billboards come in various sizes; you may not need one of the great big ones you see on the interstate.
Speaking of signage, did you know you can turn your vehicle into your very own mobile sign? Transforming your company vehicles into “mobile billboards” is a proven way to snag thousands of impressions per day, with a recall rate of around 97 percent. So you can see how including your URL on an eye-catching vehicle wrap would be a very effective way to “drive” offline traffic online.
Like any sizable investment, it’s wise to evaluate your decision carefully though. You can search for vehicle wrap shops in your area, but be sure to evaluate their work and check out reviews from previous customers before making a decision.
Displaying your URL far and wide will definitely increase your online traffic, but keep a few guidelines in mind:
- The end goal is to drive customers and prospective customers to your website, where you can offer them additional information. Ergo, make sure your website includes the information they're most likely to want.
- Customers accessing your website via a QR code will likely be on a mobile device, so make sure your site is responsive. (If you care about organic search traffic, you should have done this already.)
- On outdoor advertising like billboards and vehicle wraps, keep text to a minimum, so people can catch your message on the fly.
- Clean, san serif fonts are best. On outdoor pieces, make that the font is large enough to be quickly and easily read.
- Highlight your company name and logo, so even if the viewer doesn’t remember your URL, they can search for your business later.
Once again, the real secret to driving offline traffic online is to watch for opportunities and be intentional about every offline piece you create. If you approach your marketing with a what-starts-offline-ends-up-online mind set, you’re bound to see your web traffic numbers soar.
Jeremy Knauff is the founder of Spartan Media, a proud father, husband, and US Marine Corps veteran. He has spent over 15 years helping businesses of all sizes to make their mark online, and today, he’s busy building his own media empire.